Also known as Roodmas or May Day
|Many Wiccans and Pagans celebrate Beltane. It is one of eight solar Sabbats. This holiday incorporates traditions from the Gaelic Bealtaine, such as the bonfire, but it
bears more relation to the Germanic May Day festival, both in its significance (focusing on fertility) and its rituals (such as May pole dancing). Some traditions celebrate this holiday on May
1 or May day, whiles others begin their celebration the eve before or April 30th.
Beltane is a season of fertility and fire, and we often find this reflected in the magic of the season. Let's look at some of that spring magic, from ritual sex to fertility magic, along with the
magic found in gardens and nature.
It's Beltane, the Sabbat where many Wiccans and Pagans choose to celebrate the fertility of the earth. This Sabbat is about new life, fire, passion and rebirth, so there are all kinds of creative
ways you can set up for the season. Depending on how much space you have, you can try some or even all of these ideas -- obviously, someone using a bookshelf as an altar will have less flexibility
than someone using a table, but use what calls to you most.
This is a time when the earth is lush and green as new grass and trees return to life after a winter of dormancy. Use lots of greens, as well as bright spring colors -- the yellow of the daffodils, forsythia and dandelions; the purples of the lilac; the blue of a spring sky or a robin's egg. Decorate your altar with any or all of these colors in your altar cloths, candles, or colored ribbons.
The Beltane holiday is the time when, in some traditions, the male energy of the god is at its most potent. He is often portrayed with a large and erect phallus, and other symbols of his fertility
include antlers, sticks, acorns, and seeds. You can include any of these on your altar. Consider adding a small Maypole centerpiece -- there are few things more phallic than a pole sticking up
out of the ground!
In addition to the lusty attributes of the god, the fertile womb of the goddess is honored at Beltane as well. She is the earth, warm and inviting, waiting for seeds to grow within her. Add a
goddess symbol, such as a statue, cauldron, cup, or other feminine items. Any circular item, such as a wreath or ring, can be used to represent the goddess as well.
Beltane is the time when the earth is greening once again -- as new life returns, flowers are abundant everywhere. Add a collection of early spring flowers to your altar -- daffodils, hyacinths, forsythia, daisies, tulips -- or consider making a floral crown to wear yourself. You may even want to pot some flowers or herbs as part of your Sabbat ritual.
Because Beltane is one of the four fire festivals in modern Pagan traditions, find a way to incorporate fire into your altar setup. Although one popular custom is to hold a bonfire outside, that
may not be practical for everyone, so instead it can be in the form of candles (the more the better), or a table-top brazier of some sort. A small cast-iron cauldron placed on a heat-resistant tile
makes a great place to build an indoor fire.
Drape the altar in a green cloth and decorate it with blooming flowers and herbs.
All-heal, blessed thistle, broom, curry, daffodil, dogwood, coriander, dragon's blood reed, fern, fireweed, nettle, flaxseed, hawthorn, marjoram, paprika, radish, rue, snapdragon, mushroom, almond, meadowsweet, rose, woodruff, tansy, elder leaves.
Rose, jasmine, ylang, ylang, peach, musk, or vanilla.
Malachite, garnet, rose quartz, emerald, beryl, tourmaline.
Spells to ensure prosperity, conservation, safety, and love.
oak, apple, hawthorn, birch, elder, ash, blackthorn, grape vine, mountain ash (rowan), holly, willow, cedar, yew, and hemlock.
Ashes from the balefire can be scattered in the fields as a fertility charm. Women wishing to conceive can tie a bag of the ashes around their necks. Traditionally, cattle and other animals were
driven between two fires for protection, healing, and purification. Modern pagans can ritually purify tools or other things in the balefire. Jump the dying embers of the fire for summer
Dance around the maypole.
Gather the first wild herbs of the season.
Go a-Mayin' by going to the woods and fields to gather flowers. Take a picnic.
Wash your face in dew at sunrise on Beltane for beauty in the coming year. (Traditionally the
dew from the hawthorn tree, but dew from grass and flowers will do.)
Make daisy chains and fresh flower wreaths and chaplets (head dresses) to wear and to place atop
the maypole. Braid flowers in your hair. Make and wear leafy green masks to represent the Green Man who has returned.
Make a wish at the hawthorn tree, a tree associated with faeries. Place strips of cloth
symbolizing your wish in the tree (the color should be appropriate to the nature of your wish, i.e. blue for health, pink or red for love, green or gold for prosperity). Take some time to attune to
the tree. When you feel you have contacted its spirit, visualize your wish coming true as you hook the cloth on one of the tree's thorns, chanting your wish. When you have finished, leave a gift for
Make love in the woods. Beltane is the time of year when the Goddess and God consummate their
passions. Traditionally it is a time when lovers pledge to live together for a year and a day. At the end of the period, they may part ways if things haven't worked out. If all has gone well, they
may make plans for a handfasting at Midsummer.
Mark the boundaries of your circle with oatmeal, a traditional Beltane grain.
Oatmeal and dairy products. Begin the day with a hearty bowl of Irish oatmeal topped with cream and brown sugar or country butter. Oatmeal brings good fortune and encourages the power and magick of the faeries. We always have warm oatmeal cookies and vanilla ice cream as a Beltane treat.
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